Alvin Yuen, 19, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology The soap operas on television might seem like fun, guilty pleasure, but they could be detrimental to your mental health. These days, most TV producers target their shows at the younger generation. So you have to be careful about the TV programmes you watch. Soaps try to entertain you and keep you hooked. Scriptwriters will use anything to entice viewers into watching their shows. Often, these shows portray a sense of distorted reality. Things that happen in TV soaps rarely occur in everyday life, and this gives youngsters a wrong picture of the outside world. Although we understand that these dramas aren't real, they leave a negative impression on the viewers, especially teenagers. Watching soaps is also very time-consuming. Die-hard fans won't be able to do anything else after sitting through, for example, three, hour-long TV soaps daily. This will be especially hard on students who have a heavy workload. The media should promote responsible behaviour among the younger audience. But TV soaps take youngsters to a fantasy world, making it hard for them to connect with real-life situations. Naomi Ng, 17, Diocesan Girls' School They say too much of anything is not good for your health. But, can you say watching too many TV soaps is harmful to the mind as consuming too much salt is harmful to your health? Bear in mind that the phrase 'harmful to the mind' has a meaning of inflicting psychological damage. TV soaps are often categorised into dramas based on the themes of family, love, comedy and mystery. Soaps are popular among a wide age range, because of their exciting plots, humorous lines and believable characters. The purpose of TV soaps is not only to entertain, but also to allow audiences to think. Viewers are given a chance to relate to the characters and things that happen in their lives, and reflect upon them. Take Shakespeare's plays for instance. He allowed the audience to take an objective point of view while watching the plays. Depending on the plot, emotions and people's reactions, Shakespeare gave viewers a choice - they could identify with the characters or disagree with them. I believe TV soaps help reveal the weaknesses and strengths in humans that we do not see in ourselves. They are also an important source of self-reflection.